Legal and institutional frameworks


Appropriate legal and institutional frameworks are of paramount importance to the realization of the right to social security.

An appropriate legal framework establishes entitlements in a clear and transparent way, and will allow persons who are entitled to benefits to make claims and obtain redress in case of a violation of their rights. It will also protect people from arbitrary or discretionary selection and decision making facilitate access to social protection and help guaranteeing equality of treatment.

Legal and institutional frameworks are also essential for establishing the roles and responsibilities of the different actors involved in designing, administering, delivering, and enforcing social protection systems. It is therefore essential to the effective functioning of the system and serves to avoid overlaps, duplications, multiplications or gaps.


Photo credit: “2013_10_09_Media_Law_Consultation_027” by AMISOM Public Information (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

Expert Commentaries

The Compatibility between ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors and the ICESCR

It is undeniably relevant to consider the compatibility of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Recommendation No. 202 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), given that the ICESRC is very demanding, covering not only social security and its main nine branches, but also questions like work and working conditions, education, food, […]

Using Human Rights in the Courts to Broaden Social Protection—The South African Example

Human rights have an important role to play in supporting the objectives of social protection which include the prevention of poverty and inequality, ensuring solidarity and inclusion, and creating economically and socially fairer societies. They offer a normative basis and a legal imperative for requiring that states realize the right to social security for their […]

Finding Synergies between Political Support, Legal Frameworks and Funding for Sustainable Social Protection Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean

Implementing social protection policies and programmes (SPPPs) in the absence of clear and specific legal and institutional frameworks entails a number of risks, not only in terms of their continuity, but also of scope, legitimacy and the protection of human rights standards (United Nations, 2009). Legal and institutional frameworks enable the permanence of these policies […]


Adequate legal and institutional framework and long-term social protection strategies

A human rights-based approach to social protection requires grounding social protection systems in a strong legal and institutional framework. This should ensure both programme stability and the recognition of beneficiaries as rights holders. The need to provide for strong legal frameworks that clearly lay out entitlements, rights and obligations is provided for in Recommendation No. […]

Legal Instruments

Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102)

A reference for the development of social security systems, Convention No. 102 is the flagship of the up-to-date social security Conventions since it is deemed to embody the internationally accepted definition of the very principle of social security.  Convention No. 102 is unique for both its conceptual formulation of social security, and the guidance it provides for […]

Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]


Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development: General Survey concerning the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

The ILO’s General Survey 2019 , compiled by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR). The Survey (published under the title Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development) focuses on the ILO’s Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), which calls for basic income security and essential healthcare […]

International Social Security Review Special Issue: Special Issue: The human right to social security

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 asserts that social security is an inalienable human right. Realizing this human right is often considered, simply, as a matter of political will and of administrative aptitude. In these terms, the progressive realization of the human right to social security may be viewed as the […]

The Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: A Commentary

This commentary aims to address the need for scholarly research, reasoned argument, consistent interpretation and creative approaches to advocacy, adjudication and remedies under the new OP-ICESCR to ensure that its promise and purpose are fully realized. It aims to provide commentary that is rigorous from a scholarly perspective but relevant for practice and helpful in […]

Building Social Protection Systems: international standards and human rights instruments

This compendium contains a selection of the most relevant international instruments that establish the human right to social security and provide guidance for comprehensive social security systems at national level. These include the standards and conclusions adopted by the International Labour Organization (hereinafter referred to as ILO) in the field of social security and the […]

Extending Social Security by Anchoring Rights in Law

The South African social protection system is one of the most comprehensive within the region. Its statutory and effective coverage rates are above the region’s average and comparable or even beyond those of other BRICS countries. The comprehensive nature of the system lies in contributory and non-contributory cash and in-kind legal guarantees which form the […]

Extending Social Protection by Anchoring Rights in Law

The adoption of the 1988 constitution marked a landmark in the history of the Brazilian social security system by introducing a universal social security model grounded in citizenship rights. The Constitution sets out the State’s responsibility in organizing and legislating social security. This should be done according to principles of universality of protection, adequacy of […]

Sanitation Law and Policy in India

Most comprehensive work on sanitation in India. Provides an overview of the existing legal as well as policy instruments related to sanitation in India. Fills the existing gap, both in knowledge and policy instruments, defining sanitation in India. Highlights the importance, complexity, and fragmented nature of the legal and policy frameworks that inform the sanitation […]

Social protection in the European Social Charter (Social Charter Monographs No. 7)

The European Social Charter is the only treaty in European law to apply to all the aspects of social protection which are the core of the European social model. It guarantees the right to social security, the right to social assistance and the right to benefit from social services. This book explains the content of […]

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